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Phuket Motoring: How the island’s vehicles are changing

The number of new cars registered in Phuket is poised to surpass the number of new motorcycles for the first time in the island’s history. This is just one of many insights garnered from free downloadable data on the official government website of The Department of Land Transportation office in Phuket.

Monday 10 November 2014, 08:48AM

Richard Jones

Digging into the new vehicle registration numbers for Phuket since 2000, I’ve compiled what I hope are some interesting statistics for Phuket and how those reflect some wider changes that are happening on the island.

Anyone who’s tried to find a parking spot in Central Festival on a Saturday afternoon should be aware of the dominance of the Toyota brand in Phuket.

In the car market we can see Toyota has consistently outperformed the competition since they overtook Honda in 2004, and in the pickup truck market, Toyota surpassed its chief rival Isuzu for the first time in 2012. There were on average 20 new Toyotas registered in Phuket each day in 2013.

While the number of cars has been steadily growing year-on-year, in the pickup truck market – for which Thailand is one of the world leaders – new registrations have been comparably stagnant over the last 13 years. In 2000, pickup trucks represented more than 50 per cent of all the car/truck registrations in Phuket, compare that to last year and the number has fallen to less than 16 per cent.

Since a peak in 2006, new motorcycle registrations in Phuket have been declining and are now at a similar level to 10 years ago. For big bikes – motorcycles with engine sizes greater than 150cc – the story is quite different however. Over the last few years there’s been a large increase in the number of new big bike registrations. Last year big bikes represented over 11 per cent of all new motorcycles registered in Phuket, up from almost nothing in 2000.

Laguna Golf Phuket

Looking at the brands available to us in Phuket, the dominance of the Asian manufacturers is quite apparent. In the car market, Asian brands account for almost 90 per cent of all new car registrations in Phuket and that hasn’t changed much over the last 13 years.

One thing to note is that US manufacturers have more than doubled their marketshare since 2000, while their European rivals’ marketshare has decreased slightly during the same period.

Other events that have affected Phuket are also visible in the data. The effects of the government’s first car policy in 2012 are clearly apparent resulting in almost double the number of new car registrations in a single year. Then there’s a general slump in overall new vehicle registrations in 2009 which may be an effect of the global financial crisis.

Now when you’re stuck at that junction surrounded by red-plated new cars watching the digits count down from 180 seconds, you have some numbers to ponder. Over the last 13 years, 417,223 new vehicles have been registered in Phuket and the number of new vehicles registered each year is now three times greater than back in 2000. Has the island’s infrastructure kept up with the pace?

All data was supplied from

Richard Jones is the Managing Director of BuyCar24 and can be contacted through



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